It was time for Smash Hits to up their game with their annual end of year release. The 1991 edition featured a whopping 40 “mega-huge hits”. The previous record was 35 tunes on Now That’s What I Call Music 16. Smash Hits 1991 was devised and compiled by Phil and John Cokell with Mark Arthurworrey acting as music consultant. As was the fad at the time, it’s partially-mixed. And like the summer’s Smash Hits Massive, a number of tracks have been edited to “fit them all in”. Both CDs run for approximately 71 minutes each so it’s a case of go figure. Vinyl playing time limitations still calling the shots?
Marky Mark and The Funky Bunch are Donnie Wahlberg’s younger brother and his homeboy friends from Boston. Good Vibrations is a blast as it liberally samples Loletta Holloway’s Love Sensation. A scaled-down Thinking About Your Love from Kenny Thomas is next before the bible-reading Chesney Hawkes and The One And Only. And Jason Donovan covering The Turtles’ Happy Brother. Soft psych Neighbours-style! Just Another Dream was Cathy Dennis in her imperial phase – pulsating dance pop with a funky edge. We then lurch from Roxette’s epic power ballad Fading Like A Flower to Electronic’s bittersweet melancholy of Get The Message. Sumner and Marr making for a winning combination. This very indie sequence continues with the hypnotic Over Rising, the first of two non-album 45s that The Charlatans would release that year.
There’s a slow interlude with Beverley Craven’s powerful Promise Me and Extreme’s soppy More Than Words. The ghosts of The Crosbie Motor Hotel are calling. Extreme kept a girl chart when they were on the road. Purpose – to see who got the most action. The Fairbrass brothers, Fred and Richard as Right Said Fred unleashed the glitter stomp of I’m Too Sexy which is followed by the relentless Jesus Jones single International Bright Young Thing. Mike Edwards writes the tunes and is married to a Swedish model. It’s worth mentioning that a few refugees from The Hits Album are featured here – among them Erasure’s gorgeous Chorus and the aforementioned Mr Thomas and Ms Craven.
Sophie Lawrence appeared in Eastenders as Diane Butcher. She reached #21 in 1991 with a storming cover of Donna Summer’s Love’s Unkind. It was released on PWL. The good vibrations Waterman-style continue with Sonia’s positive anthem Be Young, Be Foolish, Be Happy [on Simon Cowell’s I.Q. label] and Kylie Minogue’s hot reinvention that is Shocked. Kim “Moody, Humorous, Fussy, Serious” Appleby’s bouncy follow-up to Don’t Worry was G.L.A.D and it made #10 in the early spring. It was also Bros’s second last stand: Are You Mine? was their 10th single, there was only one more left in the bag. It’s another dramatic and moody love song that demands your attention. Fellow angel Frances Nero’s Footsteps Following Me is also heavenly, a Northern Soul 45 worthy of Wigan. Disc one’s ender is by Dannii Minogue, a bright chink of dance pop called Love And Kisses.
There’s a definite ramping up of all things danceable on disc 2. Amy Grant’s Baby Baby is a rather inoffensive fluffy piece that’s made even more inconsequential as it’s followed by The Prodigy’s wild and untamed Charly (Alley Cat Mix). There’s heat-filled madness on DJ Jazzy Jeff and The Fresh Prince’s Kool and The Gang-sampled Summertime while Rozalla’s Everybody’s Free remains a key house classic, all pumping beats and loads of gurning. The jackpot is struck with the swinging hip hop of Now That We’ve Found Love. The late great Dwight Errington Myers and his expertly delivered rap. He was the greatest dancer too. The KLF reached the #1 spot earlier that spring with the complete studio creation 3AM Eternal (Live At The S.S.L.) while Nomad’s (I Wanna Give You) Devotion and Urban Soul’s Alright slip past in the blink of an eye; both severely truncated.
Loretta Hayward’s beautiful vocal crowns Bomb The Bass’ serene and snowy Winter In July. Doves cried as MC Hammer followed up U Can’t Touch This with the rather wooden Pray. Sabrina Johnson’s Peace gets the Brothers In Rhythm treatment and it sounds like gospel rave. Liverpool’s ultimate house anthem was Oceanic’s amazing Insanity; the sound of an entire club losing it. Sandwiched between this pair are The Simpsons with Do The Bartman. Last name Simpson, first name Bart. Taken from The Simpsons Sing the Blues and performed by cast member Nancy Cartwright, The song was written and produced by Michael Jackson and Bryan Loren. Although Jackson did not receive any credit because he was under contract to another record label, he was a fan of the show.
From #55 to #4: The Shamen struck oil with Move Any Mountain (ProGen ’91). Cola Boy’s 7 Ways To Love is just as addictive. Like sunlight inside my mind. Crystal Waters’ Gypsy Woman is next, a somewhat haunting video and equally memorable tune. The curse of the edits strikes again with emasculated versions of Monie Love vs Adeva’s Ring My Bell and A Tribe Called Quest’s Can I Kick It? Street justice. Comfort in this madness comes from New Kids On The Block and the gritty urban funk of Call It What You Want. From boys to men. By the time Crazy was released, Seal was 28 and no longer designing clothes for a living. He was still a fan of silk pyjamas though. Solitary brother.
Cathy Dennis – Just Another Dream
The Charlatans – Over Rising
Heavy D and The Boyz – Now That We’ve Found Love
New Kids On The Block – Call It What You Want
The Simpsons – Do The Bartman
Lest we forget
Sophie Lawrence – Love’s Unkind
Another great review….. Good to see you mention one of my guilty pleasures..Bros’ “Are You Mine” great track…. Still need to comment on Now Dance 91…will do..the soundtrack to my summer interailing around Europe.
Thanks Graham, yes that Bros track is excellent. It features as one of the favourite tracks on The Greatest Hits of 1991 [coming on Friday 13th]. It seemed like their ship was about to sail in 1991. Trends change very fast. What’s once hot and new can become unwanted and unacceptable for second hand sale very fast.
Hi Paul…Yes, the music industry is very fickle..Looking back at the big bands of 1984, some took a year off in 1985 and when it came to release new material in 1986, times had changed..
Culture Club’s “Move Away” was a top 10, yet the follow-up “God Thank You Woman” couldn’t reach the Top 30…the same for Duran Duran, “Notorious” Top 10, “Skin Trade” No.22 (which is one my favorites) …Same thing happened to Nik Kershaw and Howard Jones!
Nik and Howard fell foul of the difficult third album syndrome. Even though both efforts were decent. Then the law of diminishing returns set in…. and they could barely make the top 75 by the end of the decade.
I thought both “When A Heart Beats” and “All I Want” were decent singles….And Paul Young kinda struggled during this time…
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Such a shame that ‘Alright’ by Urban Soul is both the wrong mix and edited. That one hardly ever appears on compilations, though it does appear on a lot of dance mix CDs.
Good call Andy; the best source for the radio edit is the CD single. One of the EVA compilations (Dutch) has the Club Mix but it’s not on hand to check.
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This was one of Mark Artherworrey’s gentler attempts at compiing. His stuff with Cookie Jar was brutal.
His work on Hits 14 leaves a lot to be desired (partially-mixed) but like Hardcore Uproar. Smash Hits 1991 has good tracks; pity the way it’s laid out.
I’d forgotten I’d posted about this. Yes, it was a bit of a shambles and not that well sequenced. Thinking about Urban Soul’s Alright, or the half of it that appears here, Sasha’s remix of it was released 5 weeks before this compilation. In its first 3 weeks it made 44, 43 then 56. Given the tracks Arthurworrey could have used, this was one of the most peculiar.
It might also be telling that this album sold more poorly than any of the other end-of-year Smash Hits albums from the era.
It certainly is the turkey of the fatbox era!
Funnily enough it was the first double cassette I ever had. I had it for Christmas from some sadist in the family!